Farmers and rural businesses should ensure they are flood aware and have a plan in place as yellow weather warnings for rainfall remain in force across the UK.
The advice comes as floods have hit Wales, the Midlands and the southwest of England this week and further volatile weather is predicted in parts of the UK for the coming weeks.
The Environment Agency has announced 80 flood warnings - mainly in west and southwest England - and 155 flood alerts.
In 2022, the average cost of farm flooding claims was almost £26,350, according to NFU Mutual, and in November and December average claim cost reached £31,200.
The rural insurer said it was closely monitoring the current situation as the impact on farming could be 'significant'.
"It not only disrupts vital work but can place lives in danger, so it is important rural businesses prepare appropriately for this risk," said NFU Mutual rural affairs specialist, Hannah Binns.
She explained there were a number of actions farmers could take to prepare for flooding, such as having a farm flood plan detailing everyone’s role should the worst happen.
Farmers could also identify higher ground to move livestock to if water levels rise and move vulnerable machinery, tools, stocks and veterinary resupplies to safer areas.
“For those living in farm houses and who are affected by flooding, it is important to make safety the first priority by keeping family and pets away from the flood water, Ms Binns said.
“Where possible, move to higher parts of the property and switch off electricity and gas supplies in flooded areas.
“At NFU Mutual our local Agents will be alert to flood warnings in their community and will be on hand to help, so it is important to have access to copies of any insurance documents and the relevant contact details.”
What is the advice for flooding?
Flooding preventative tips for farmers:
• Work out a farm flood plan so that if the worst does happen everybody knows what action to take and who is responsible for what.
• Identify higher ground that livestock can be moved to if water levels rise. If you're renting land in a low-lying area, it's worth speaking with neighbouring landowners to obtain permission to move livestock to their higher ground.
• Sign up for Environment Agency flood alerts at the Gov.uk website.
• Safely store fuels and chemicals that could pollute water courses in the event of flooding.
• Plan an evacuation route so that you, your family and employees stay safe. Keep contact details to hand of people who could help you move livestock in an emergency.
• Look at your farming practices and how these could impact on flooding and water penetration. Take steps to reduce soil compaction in fields and think about creating runoff ponds.
• Think about flood resilience measures for buildings which could be vulnerable to flooding. Think about locating electrical sockets and wiring higher up walls so that they're not susceptible to flooding if water gets in.
• If you're planning to invest in new buildings, speak to your insurer first to ensure that they can provide flood cover at that specific location.
• Identify machinery, tools or stock that could be moved to prevent loss or damage. Move vulnerable machinery stock and veterinary resupplies to safe locations if flooding is forecast.
• Consider how you’ll alert staff about a flood warning and how they can help you to prepare.
What do I do if my farm is flooded?
• Make safety your priority. Keep your family and pets away from the flood water and move to another part of the property.
• Do not put your life or the lives of others at risk attempted to rescue stranded animals. Contact the emergency services or the RPSCA on 0300 1234999 for help.
• Use What3Words to communicate an accurate location quickly.
• Ensure you can be contacted in an emergency, such as keeping your phone charged up and stay in contact with those around you.
• Call your insurer immediately, asking about alternative accommodation if your property is unsafe.
• Check on family and friends and let them know your situation.
• If you can, switch off mains gas and electricity supplies in the affected area.
• Have a pack with essential items like prescriptions, other medicines and food, paying particular attention to items like baby food handy to take with you if needed.
• Have a torch and charged mobile phone on hand in case of power cuts.
• When it’s safe to enter the flooded area again, catalogue all damaged items for insurance claims and begin clearing and drying out the area, seeking advice from your insurance company.